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The New Geography of Global Civil Society: NGOs in the World City Network

By Peter J. Taylor

GRCA Publication

Introduction

Recent research on the geography of NGOs in Global Civil Society yearbooks has emphasized a north-west European bias. This has been taken to imply that global civil society is but a pale geographical shadow of the power concentrations in global economy and governance. Using an interlocking network model and data on 74 global NGOs with offices across 178 cities, NGO connectivity values for cities show that there is a ‘global South’, especially sub-Saharan African, geographical bias. Nairobi is the most connected world city with respect to NGO activities. This marked contrast to recent received wisdom implies a diffuse network power relationship. To the extent that global NGOs reveal the new geography of global civil society in a space of flows, these results support a positive interpretation for NGOs contributing to an emancipatory global agenda.

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